Bering Sea red king crab, snow crab closed for 2022/2023

Crabbers had asked for "at least the same level of harvest" as trawlers take as bycatch.

by | October 10, 2022

Filed Under Uncategorized

Stocks are “below the regulatory threshold for opening a fishery,” says ADF&G

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced late Monday that based on the summer trawl surveys, there will be no fisheries for Bristol Bay red king crab and snow crab for 2022 and 2023. A small fishery for Tanner crab will be allowed.

In its releases, ADF&G stated that the department “appreciates and carefully considered all input from crab industry stakeholders prior to making this decision. Understanding crab fishery closures have substantial impacts on harvesters, industry, and communities, ADF&G must balance these impacts with the need for long-term conservation and sustainability of crab stocks. Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the stock. Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway. With crab industry input, ADF&G will continue to evaluate options for rebuilding, including potential for sustainably fishing during periods of low abundance. This will allow ADF&G to work on issues related to state and federal co-management, observer coverage, discard mortality, and fishery viability.”

Prior to the decision, the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Association had asked state and federal managers to take a close look at the uncertainties surrounding the management decisions for the past several years, the gaps in data and knowledge that could be partially bridged by allowing a small fishery, and the lack of response to declines in BBRKC for the past 15 years.

“We ask that you create some immediate flexibility in the system to adjust to the unique situation … using the best available science and moving crab stocks towards more sustainability, while also balancing the needs of fishing communities consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act,” said ABSC director Jamie Goen in a letter to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. “The uncertainties in current status, stock estimates, and management leave some room to consider the immediate human dimensions being impacted by allowing for a small, directed crab fishery to balance the needs of fishermen and the associated fishing communities.” 

“If we can’t fish [at past levels], let us be platforms for research,” Goen added. 

In her letter, she asked for flexibility for Bering Sea snow crab, “to set at least some level of harvest for the upcoming 2022/2023 season. Given the uncertainty in the Bering Sea snow crab stock assessment, paired with the unaccounted-for portion of the same stock in the Northern Bering Sea and hybrid populations, we ask for some level of harvest even if we are approaching harvest control rules, noting that collective fishing impacts have not come close to exceeding snow crab acceptable biological catch levels.”

“At a minimum, if other sectors are allowed up to 4.35 million animals in bycatch through prohibited species catch limits while the snow crab stock is at low levels, then the direct crab fishery should be allowed at least that same amount, in line with the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirement to allocate fairly and equitably among sectors and to consider the needs of fishing communities.” The Bering Sea trawl sector is allowed to catch 4.35 million crabs as bycatch in the groundfish fishery. 


Bairdi Tanners get a small quota

Below is the allowable catch for Tanners:

Thanks to’s Peggy Parker for contributing to this story.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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